How can Techno, however melodic, involuntarily sound like Amsterdam trams (“Do While”), crickets chirping (“Store Check”) and even mobile ringtones (“Line Extension”)? A hydrating sonic solution to the draglines between these disparate interpretations is called for. Oval is certainly an artist ahead of its creator’s time, focussing on a broad tapestry of triangulated rhythm-mantras that bring out this transcendental turn for the diamel, bathed in pure shine.
How polished is it? There’s a definite Pop sparkle that creates washes of mellifluousness in the most watery moments. While the integrative post-production (ordering, mastering, arrangements) anchor Oval in the realm of Blue Six Deep House haze. How does this release magnify the good parts of Rave culture? For a Rave aficionado, the tendency is to look in inverse proportions to what has already passed – see the rise of Raster-Noton’s clicks ‘n’ glitch for evidence why retromania is so successful. Oval’s “94diskont” was played at Techno raves back in 1994-1996 as a sound installation. Luckily, the transcension quality remains permissible today, albeit in a broader environment.
As for culture itself as a widespread entity, the album pieces are said to be “deconstructionist” and apply a firm basis of yin/yang to reconstruction. So we’re not getting any Erik Satie wallpaper music, or what is not considered as “just” music even. “Cross Selling” comes close to Flying Lotus’ aurally bright garb and burble. “Commerce Server” continues this angle, and the works start to resemble wallpaper soaked with liquid, coarse paint stripper and doused with a sponge, it’s task to suck up all the condiments of bugged electronics and cast them with revolvent retrospectivity towards a new context, a new age. Leaving detritus, like rubbing an Etch ‘A’ Sketch with the wrong type of eraser.
In practice, as the press release states, “the main track is followed by five offensively complex tracks, including two bonus tracks, previously unavailable in the US and completed by a re-edited excerpt of “Do While”. ” These are not offensive in an unpleasant sense: Thrill Jockey are rather pointing at the PAT test-bothering sonic splatters that Oval are willing to summon from the mixing desk. “Do While Apple-X” concludes comparatively more polished, more magnified on the good of Rave, more reconstructionist of the LP’s ethos, and more pleasant to the ear in every consistent sense.
How does it compare to previous Oval album of the period, “Systemisch?” Thrill Jockey wants these LPs to be seen as a similar entity for obvious reasons, but it’s good to know similar entity equates to similar quality of music. In fact I’d go as far as saying “94diskont” is the better release – the production standards are higher; the clicks and glitches don’t grate on the ear at any interval; and it feels like you’re going somewhere new without tripping your own laces about previous encounters, a problem with lots of Techno-oriented material of the last 15 years. One kick or tom enters another then we go in reverse if not attuned.
“94diskont” is a solvent record, one that may take a little getting used to for the 24 minute size of the first track alone, but the payoff is one that will delight. Oval (Markus Popp, Sebastian Oschatz and Frank Metzger) was founded in 1991 in Germany and it’s definitely intriguing to see how the sound has grown new wings since that time. Anyone with the merest interest in Ambient Techno and Glitch, get one of the 1500 repressed copies before you regret it…
“94diskont” will be released in conjunction with Record Store Day 2013, on April 20th.
– Mick Buckingham for Fluid Radio